By John Honell, Correspondent
The California Elite Showcase lived up to its name, matching a pair of 2010 state champions in the feature game of the day-long extravaganza at the University of La Verne.
Price High School, the 2010 Division IV CIF State champion, faced off against La Verne Lutheran, the Division V champion, in front of a packed house Saturday night. The Knights’ twin towers, Norvelle Pelle and Skylar Spencer, took control of the boards in the second half as Price pulled away for an 80-65 victory over the Trojans. (To continue click thread)
“We tried to bring a playoff atmosphere to this event,” Trojans coach Eric Cooper said. “We felt bringing this type of team would help us to fight or to learn from getting beat. Now we go back to the drawing board and start over hoping it will spark us to take it to another level.”
The 6-foot-9 Pelle, who has signed with St. John’s University, and Spencer, a 6-8 junior, were able to shut down the Trojans’ big man, Grant Jerrett, in the second half. Jerrett had 11 of his 15 points in the first half.
“The first half was pretty good,” Jerrett said. “Then they adjusted and swarmed a little bit. There were long arms coming around and I couldn’t see.”
There were three ties and eight lead changes in the first quarter with the Knights taking a 17-16 lead when Colorado-bound Askia Booker hit a shot at the buzzer.
“Booker played like a Pac-10 guard,” Cooper said. “He did a great job running their team.”
There were five more lead changes in the second quarter with the Trojans taking their final lead, 26-24, with 4:11 left in the half.
Chance Murray hit a 3-pointer for the Knights to spark a 10-0 run that ended with an alley-oop dunk by Pelle on a pass from Booker.
Bruce English hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in the half to stop the bleeding. English led the Trojans with 19 points.
“We kept attacking and that didn’t work,” English said. “We should have pulled it back out and run a few plays for Grant, but we didn’t do that. It was just one of those things. You have good defensive nights, you have great defensive nights and then you have atrocious defensive nights. Tonight was just an atrocious defensive night.”
The Trojans committed 20 turnovers, giving the Knights easy baskets that proved to be the difference in the game.
“Bruce got it going,” Cooper said. “He got in a rhythm and that was good but we just couldn’t get any stops. We had 20 turnovers and they got 21 points off of them. If we take care of that, we win even though we had a bad night.”
The game could be a precursor to the playoffs. Both teams have been moved up to CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA, where Price is ranked No. 1.